Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata orbitalis (Wahlberg, 1854)

Order: Passeriformes Family: Sylviidae Status: Breeding in Madeira


Curruca conspicilatta orbitalis

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Spectacled Warbler Field ID Keys

Shape & Size

A medium-small compact warbler with short tail, bill and legs.

Colour Pattern

Spectacled Warbler has a mouse-brown body with uniform rufous wing-panel, dull pinkish chest, white throat, white outer tail feathers and orange-brown legs. Males have dark grey heads while females have it brown-grey. They both show well its white eye-ring at a close view.
Spectacled Warbler is a subspecies endemic to Madeira, as its plumage is darker than that of the species found in mainland Europe.

Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicilatta orbitalis


This bird is difficult to observe as it is always hiding between the bushes, though its calling is very easy to distinguish it from other birds. It normally flies low between bushes, perching briefly on bush tops and then diving into the dense cover. In breeding season it gets easier to see it when it displays and sings while flying and often on the top of bushes.


Fairly common in Southwest Europe and North of Africa. Typical of low bushy and scrubby habitats. It occurs in Madeira and Porto Santo islands and is normally observed in areas with short bushes like Pride of Madeira Echium candicans, Euphorbia piscatoria, Mandon's Chrysanthemum Argyranthemum pinnatifidum succulentum or Gorse Ulex europaeus.

Distinction from similar species

Spectacled Warbler resembles a smaller and shorter tailed Common Whitethroat which is a rare vagrant bird to Madeira.

Sylvia conspicillata Biometrics

Total length: 12.5 cm (Duivendijk, 2010)

Other Bird Facts

Seasonality in Madeira: All year
Breeding: In Madeira it is common to watch birds displaying and carrying nesting material into the bushes as early as January. The nest is a deep cup built with dry grass or small stems placed in the dense cover bushes. It may have up to 2 broods a year each with 3 to 5 eggs.
Diet: It mainly picks insects from foliage and may also feed on some berries and seeds.


Madeira local status by Correia-Fagundes et al, 2021: Rare breeding bird
Madeira local status by Romano et al, 2010: Rare breeding bird
Madeira local status by Zino et al, 1995: Rare breeding bird
Conservation status by the IUCN Red List Categories, 2013: Least Concern ver 3.1

Name of this species in other languages

Madeiran: Cigarrinho
Portuguese: Toutinegra-tomilheira
German: Brillengrasmücke-orbitalis, Brillengrasmücke
Dutch: Brilgrasmus
Swedish: Glasögonsångare
Danish: Brillesanger
Finish: Pikkupensaskerttu
Norwegian: Maskesanger
Spanish: Curruca Tomillera
French: Fauvette à lunettes
Italian: Sterpazzola di Sardegna
Polish: Pokrzewka okularowa
Slovak: Penica okuliarnatá
Czech: Pěnice brýlatá
English synonyms: Spectacled Warbler

Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicilatta orbitalis

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